Usher: Stronger, Wiser & All Grown Up

(photo credit: Usher instagram)

(photo credit: Usher instagram)

Usher Raymond is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most successful pop music superstars of all time. His last four albums (2004’s Confessions, 2008’s Here I Stand, 2010’s Raymond v. Raymond, and 2012’s Looking 4 Myself) have all gone to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Usher has had eight No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Top 100 songs chart — this places him behind Janet Jackson and Stevie Wonder, who have each had 10 No. 1s.

Confessions, his biggest album so far, has sold more than 10 million in the United States, more than 20 million worldwide — and counting. Usher has collected eight Grammy awards and has 22 nominations. Usher received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 7, 2016.

“As a kid, looking at Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, New Edition, the Temptations, Motown, people who I felt were huge artists, they made me wanna do something,” Usher says. He joined an R&B act called NuBeginnings at 10 years old, and everything in his life since has been in service of entertaining. After appearing on the Ed McMahon-hosted, nationally televised talent show Star Search at 13, Usher was introduced to Antonio “L.A.” Reid, the famed music executive behind OutKast and TLC, among others. He signed to Reid’s LaFace Records label within a year.

TAKE A LOOK: Usher’s Top 13 Real Life Confessions

When Usher was 15, Reid sent him to “Flavor Camp”—living with Puff Daddy in New York City—a sort of boarding school for ascendant stars. “That became my normal,” Usher says. “That culture was my normal, so naturally I progressed to be who I became.”

But through all of that success, his personal life took a few hits. He’s endured a very public breakup with Chili from TLC. Usher’s five-year-old son, Usher Raymond V, nearly drowned in a pool accident—just a year after his stepson with ex-wife Tameka Foster died in a jet-ski accident. Not to mention his very public divorce and new marriage to his current wife, Grace Miguel.

“I was going through a lot,”
Usher says, his voice still calm. “There were custody battles, almost the death of a child, and the death of [my stepson]. I went through a soul-searching period. I went to a place that was a little bit more reflective and dark. I began to look at who I am, who I was, where I come from, what my culture is, and who I am as an African-American person in America.” He pauses. “I went through a lot of shit,” he says.

Usher chimes in on a few things he’s grown up to learn.

Usher On His Body

Starting at 183 before filming his current movie Hands Of Stone (he got down to 146 lbs. at his lowest), Usher, 38,…